Bring Me The Horizon

support PVRIS + Beartooth
author AP date 18/11/15 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

So it begins, overreactions and paranoia. As if individual pat-downs and full bag searches could stop terrorists armed with bomb belts and assault rifles, Bring Me the Horizon had, according to the promoter, requested extraordinary security measures to be put in place at VEGA in the wake of the recent atrocities in Paris, France, and predictably, the only consequence was a staggering queue stretching around the block that meant most of us did not have the chance to watch the much hyped opening act Beartooth (scheduled to start just 30 minutes after doors opened). Our contingent is ushered in after one hour of queueing, just in time to purchase a brutally priced beverage peruse what sort of entity this main support PVRIS (pronounced Paris, ironically) is.

Photos courtesy of Jacob Dinesen

PVRIS

I was told prior to the show to expect something à la Paramore infused with hefty electronics — basically mainstream pop with guitar and bass — but as the trio, swollen into a quartet in the live setting through the inclusion of a live drummer in the shape of Justin Nace, introduce themselves via the slow and dreamy, almost trip hoppy “White Noise” bathed in moody blue light, that description does not seem to hold water. One can understand why they have been tapped to play alongside the Bring Me the Horizon, sort of like managing expectations for those who might still be oblivious to that band’s gradual transition into a more mainstream format. And despite the fact that you would probably never catch me listening to PVRIS on the stereo, the music is strangely alluring, not least because vocalist / guitarist Lyndsey ‘Lynn Gunn’ Gunnulfsen houses a mesmerising voice — slightly husky, with an extensive range, and booming with power in all the right places. She is the focal point in the band, with her two male colleagues to either side, lead guitarist Alex Babinski and bassist / keyboardist Brian MacDonald, fully in acceptance of their supporting role.

For me, it is the aforementioned opening track that leaves the most lasting impression, but even the more energetic and admittedly very poppy picks like “Fire” and “St. Patrick” still appeals to me more than the usual dross heard on radio. Judging by the pumping fists and in-sync bouncing, the band’s six-song set also pleases a sizable portion of the young audience. It is catchy, driven and — at least when played live — satisfactorily heavy so as to have an engaging effect. What the trio needs to work on however, is their trouble at functioning as a unit. Too often are Babinski and MacDonald left to look like stage props or hired guns while Lynn Gunn takes the lead both in terms of exuding energy, and in enamouring the crowd with her vocal talent. This is a decent showing then, but it nonetheless feels like PVRIS will be in their element when they headline at Pumpehuset next year in more intimate confines.

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Bring Me The Horizon

The signs that I might have outgrown Bring Me the Horizon have long been obvious, and the final nail to the coffin was delivered by this year’s "That’s the Spirit” album. With it the band cut off their heavy, unpredictable roots and embraced a far reaching style that is certain to earn them headlining spots at some of the biggest venues and festivals in the years to come. And look, the record is solid — I will be the first to admit it, and I am in attendance tonight expecting it to be a triumph live. But it does not strum my metallic chords, and alas, the concert goes on to prove that the music no longer contains the intrigue that wild, off-the-hinges records like “Suicide Season” and “Count Your Blessings” did. The band has become too polished and too much of the oomph and extremity that used to characterise their shows has become lost in washes of samples, electronics and — gasp — playback.

The first song of the evening, “Doomed”, spells disaster. Oliver Sykes’ subtle singing is nowhere to be heard, just as Lee Malia is struggling to make himself important in this new sound. Only when Jordan Fish on the synths joins in to add power to the chorus are vocals even slightly audible, and inevitably, the slowness of this track and the dismal audio mix it suffers from transform what could have been a triumphant entrance into a serious anticlimax. It should have been the following “Happy Song” initiating the proceedings, the exploding plumes of smoke and sampled cheerleader chants sending the audience into a frenzy at last. The sing-along is so monumental it hardly matters that Sykes still seems to suffer from poor lung capacity and so leaves it up to Fish and the fans to bear the brunt of the vocal duties especially when some power is required. When technical difficulties arise in the wake of “Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake”, the crowd even roars ”S-P-I-R-I-T. Spirit! Let’s hear it” in unison in one of the greatest displays of affection an audience can give a band, unfazed by the silent break. Indeed, if this were a critique of the people watching the show, chances are we would be looking at a straight 10, so enthusiastic is the response that greets Bring Me the Horizon during every song.

That is, with the exception of “Chelsea Smile” (the oldest choice from tonight’s setlist) which only a few patrons appear to be familiar with, and which Sykes proceeds promptly to butcher by replacing most of the frenetic screaming with indifferent spoken word-style vocalisation. It does not help either, that its onslaught drowns in an ocean of electronics in an unsuccessful attempt to integrate it into the band’s contemporary sound. Granted, my personal grievances aside, as the sound quality improves and the ‘Horizon members fall into an energetic rhythm, there is very little performance-wise that the band does wrong. Sykes is everywhere, jumping, kneeling, screaming into people’s faces as he always has and virtually everyone is lapping it up like cats at cream, and then it ceases to matter that half the time it is impossible to tell if the musicians’ amps are turned on, or if the music is blasting from a pre-recorded backing track. This has big stage domination written all over it, even if the whole thing lacks a bit of authenticity in my eyes, and I would be lying to claim that “The House of Wolves”, “Shadow Moses” and “Sleepwalking” do not earn nods of approval from me.

As such, it is a torn sensation I am left with when the fuck you! anthem “Antivist” concludes the ordinary set to a cauldron of middle fingers and moshing. On the one hand it seems like I might be the only one here not falling head over heels, and objectively speaking, I cannot bring myself to dismember what is unquestionably a successful experience for both band and audience. But at the same time, having seen the ‘Horizon seven times before, that youthful energy and batshit insanity that used to make their concerts as enthralling as they were violent has dropped from the palette and with it, I think my own interest in the band has waned. But hey, to each their own, and all credit to the band for inspiring such adoration in their ever-growing fanbase.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Doomed
  • 02. Happy Song
  • 03. Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake
  • 04. The House of Wolves
  • 05. Chelsea Smile
  • 06. Throne
  • 07. Shadow Moses
  • 08. Sleepwalking
  • 09. True Friends
  • 10. Can You Feel My Heart
  • 11. Antivist

—Encore—

  • 12. Blessed with a Curse
  • 13. Drown

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